In pictures: The (mostly) cool history of the IBM mainframe

IBM's iconic mainframe turns 50: In its history the IBM mainframe has been hailed and vilified. It has been born, reborn (many times) and pronounced dead. And yet the Big Iron remains a key computing resource for many large companies and will do so for many years. Here we take a look at the mainframe’s long history, from its use with the US space program to its prominence inside large business datacentres. Take a look.

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First introduced in 1985, Enterprise System/3090's had over one-million-bit memory chips and featured what IBM called Thermal Conduction Modules to speed chip-to-chip communication times. Some 3090's ran something called a Vector Facility that was designed to "increase the computing performance capability of the central processor when iterative or repetitive logical or floating-point operations are to be performed on many related data elements," IBM stated. Prices for larger models topped $5 million.

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In pictures: The (mostly) cool history of the IBM mainframe

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